New Survey: Nearly Three-Quarters of Americans Feel Optimistic About Travel in 2023

By TripIt

March 09, 2023

Americans’ views? They can vary—widely; perhaps only rivaled by the vastness of the Great Plains or the heights of the Rockies. But we’ve found one thing most Americans can agree on: Their excitement for traveling in 2023. 

Last month, we asked nearly 1,500 U.S.-based TripIt users about their recent and upcoming travel plans. According to our survey data, 90% of Americans traveled in the past three months: 73% stayed in a hotel; 67% took a domestic flight; and 64% took a road trip. 

Yes, there were disruptions. And yes, costs continued to concern travelers. Despite these setbacks, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans said they’re feeling positive about their travel plans in the year ahead.

Indeed, our survey data shows almost three-quarters (74%) of American travelers plan to fly domestically by August; half (50%) plan to fly internationally by then. An impressive 82% of survey respondents plan to stay in a hotel by that time frame, as well. 

So, what’s driving this prevailing optimism? And what impact could inflation and rising costs (such as airfare) have on these travel plans? Here’s what travelers had to say. 

Optimism is high for most Americans, survey finds

New year, new outlook on travel? That’s what our survey findings seem to suggest: 72% of Americans said they feel optimistic or very optimistic about travel in 2023; 19% of respondents said they were feeling neutral about travel; and about 9% said they felt not very or not at all optimistic. 

The optimistic traveler 

The reasons for this overall positive sentiment? Most Americans are looking forward to the trips they have planned. 

On the other hand, very few Americans are optimistic because of travel costs: less than 5% feel confident costs will go down. (More on cost concerns, and the impacts of inflation on travel, a bit further down.) 

TL;DR: Americans’ optimism is stoked by the innate joy of having plans to look forward to—despite rising costs and recent (and unprecedented) travel disruptions. 

The neutral traveler 

For the 19% of respondents who feel neither optimistic nor gloomy about travel, we’ve surmised one theory: These are the travelers who’ve learned from a disrupted travel experience—and now feel more comfortable adapting when a trip doesn’t go as planned. 

Of those who said they feel neutral about 2023 travel: 

  • 26% said they’ve booked their trips far enough in advance to ensure their lodging and transportation plans 
  • 23% feel more prepared to navigate travel disruptions 
  • 17% are less worried about getting sick during a trip
  • 16% have budgeted appropriately to afford travel this year

The not-so-optimistic traveler 

As for the roughly 9% of Americans who said they feel not very or not at all optimistic about travel in 2023: 

  • 33% said they don’t feel confident travel disruptions will improve this year
  • 26% are worried about the cost of travel
  • 13% are concerned about getting sick during a trip

These concerns, while expressed by the minority, are reminiscent of the survey data we released in September of last year. At that time, travel disruptions topped the list of concerns for travelers—beating out costs and concerns related to COVID-19. 

Related reading: So Long, Shoulder Season? New Survey Shows 85% of Americans Planning to Travel This Fall

Compensation helps Americans make 2023 travel plans

Given the chaos of traveling during the recent holiday season, it’s not difficult to see why some travelers remain concerned about disruptions in the year ahead. Our data shows that nearly half (47%) of all survey respondents who traveled in the past three months experienced some type of disruption: 40% had a flight delayed an hour or more; 16% had a flight canceled; and 10% waited in a line (e.g., security or bag check) for an hour or more. 

When it comes to disruptions, weather—especially winter weather—can often play a role: Our data shows that 18% of Americans had a trip impacted by extreme weather events (e.g., extreme cold, flooding, a bomb cyclone, and so on). That’s up 6% from survey data we released in September; a trend we’re continuing to watch. 

One out of five travelers (20%) said they received compensation for their disrupted travel experience, though another 12% said they filed a claim but did not or have not yet received compensation. Most (9%) said they received a flight voucher or airline miles/points. Just 7% received up to $500 in compensation; very few (2%) received more than that. 

Of those who received compensation, 78% plan to use it toward a trip this year. Nearly half (44%) plan to use their compensation toward a trip they were already planning and more than a quarter (27%) will put it toward a new trip. 

When asked what type of trip they’ll take:

  • 31% will take a trip to visit friends or family
  • 22% will take an international trip
  • 9% will go on a nearby or weekend getaway
  • 9% will take a solo trip 

While disruptions dismayed some travelers—including those who are optimistic about travel this year—for others, disruption concerns paled in comparison to wallet woes. Indeed, 79% of Americans said inflation has impacted their travel planning for the year ahead—a 22% increase from our September survey

The impact? Over a quarter (26%) of survey respondents said inflation has caused them to budget more than usual for travel; 18% said it has caused them to plan fewer or different types of trips. 

Half of American travelers plan to head abroad this summer 

Yet, despite concerns about travel disruptions and costs, our data shows Americans’ optimism is fueling a desire to book travel plans—both domestically and abroad. 

Here’s a look at Americans’ travel plans this spring (i.e., trips taking place between now and May):

And by August: 

  • 82% of Americans plan to stay in a hotel
  • 74% plan to fly domestically
  • 66% plan to take a road trip with a personal car
  • 52% plan to stay with family/friends on a trip 
  • 50% plan to fly internationally 
  • 32% plan to stay in a vacation rental 
  • 20% plan to rent a car or RV for a road trip
  • 14% plan to take a cruise
  • 12% plan to travel by train 

Indeed, Americans have rebounded from the unprecedented disruptions of 2022 (that is, the meltdown of summer and chaos around Christmas) to express high levels of optimism. 

And while costs (and weather events) could cause some to seek out alternate trips, right now, Americans—with visits to family and friends, spring break trips, and the relaxed days of summer ahead—are flying high on that trip-anticipation feeling. 

Methodology: TripIt surveyed nearly 1,500 U.S.-based users to understand their past and upcoming travel plans, plus their attitudes and behaviors with respect to travel disruptions and rising costs. The survey took place January 30-February 7, 2023.